Coriander seeds are popular cooking ingredients that come from cilantro. If you know how to grow cilantro, you will get close access to the seeds (and fresh leaves) every day. Luckily, cilantro is easy to grow in and outside the house. You can plant it in a garden or a small pot that you put on a balcony.
Interested in growing cilantro on your own? Here is a handy guide to follow.
1. Preparing Cilantro Seeds and Soil
Cilantro thrives in warmer regions, but they don’t like overly hot temperature. They can withstand a little frost or mild winter. The best way to grow this herb is by directly planting the seeds. Therefore, the soil quality must be good. You must mix the soil with compost or slow-releasing fertilizer, either in the garden or simple pots.
Cilantro seeds need to be soaked before you plant them, especially if they come encased in hard husks. Moisture helps these seeds to germinate and “tricks” them into thinking that this is the safest period to grow. Use hot water right from the tap and soak the seeds for 12 to 24 hours (but no more than 48 hours). You must be ready to plant the seeds after soaking is over.
2. Planting Cilantro in the Garden
Planting cilantro in the garden requires good understanding about the season. Make sure your cilantro plant gets the best of its surroundings by choosing the right season. If you live in the subtropical region, plant your cilantro during spring and early summer. If you live in the tropical or hot region, fall is a great time for planting the seeds.
Start by planting the already-soaked seeds in a pot (or multiple, depending on how many clusters you want to plant). Fill the pot with fertile soil and plant the seeds at least ¼ inch deep. Let the herbs to grow around 2 inches before transferring them to your garden.
Your garden soil must be prepared for cilantro. Make sure they get a lot of sunlight, but not too direct. Rake the garden soil first to make sure that the cilantro grows well. If you plant cilantro in several clusters, dig several holes with three to four inches of gaps between them. The plants must grow in crowded clusters to keep the roots cool.
3. Planting Cilantro Indoor
Do you prefer growing cilantro indoors? Start by choosing the right pots. Make sure the pot is at least 18 inches wide and 10 inches deep (12 inches will be better). The bottom part of the pot must have proper drainage holes, because cilantro likes moist but well-drained fertile soil. To prevent wetness, you can pick pots that have separate saucers.
To make your cilantro happy, place the pot in a warm spot with indirect light. You can put it near your kitchen window or balcony, as long as the sunlight does not directly scorch the plant. Make sure the cilantro grows in a tight cluster in your pot, so the leaves will protect the root.
4. Taking Care of Cilantro Plants
Cilantro is a short-lived herb, but you can make the most of it with proper maintenance. If your goal is to get a steady supply of cilantro leaves, make sure you never let the plants developing seeds. Here are tips to take care of your cilantro plants:
- Snip regularly
Look at your plants on a daily basis. Whenever you see growing seedpods or flower buds, snip them immediately. Cilantro that develops or flowers will die faster. Snipping makes them produce leaves longer. However, if you plan to harvest the seeds, let them grow.
- Fertilize properly
Cilantro needs routine fertilizing if you want to see constant leaf growths. Fertilize your cilantro twice a month with nitrogen-rich fertilizer. However, if you have mixed the soil with manure or compost, switch to once a month. If you plan to harvest the seeds instead of leaves, just skip the fertilizer.
- Prepare new seeds regularly
Regardless of regular trimming, you still need to replace your plants with new seeds. Prepare new, soaked seeds to replace degraded plants every six weeks.
- Water the soil
Mildew is a common occurrence in cilantro if you let the leaves become wet. Make sure to water the base/soil instead of the leaves (overhead watering) to prevent mildew. Use the spout from a small watering can prevent the water from splashing too much on the leaves.
With regular care, your cilantro will always look fresh and green. You can cut some of them whenever you cook and get fresh green colors in or outside the house.
5. Harvesting and Storing Cilantro
Unlike other leafy herbs, cilantro is not normally dried for later use. You pick the leaves whenever you need. You can start harvesting cilantro when the plants are three to four weeks old, or about 3 to 6 inches in height. However, if you want to harvest them in large numbers (such as for a planned dinner part), you can wait for 45 to 70 days before cutting all of them.
If you want to get fresh cilantro taste even after the plants are no longer growing, turn them into butter. Chop the leaves finely and combine them with unsalted butter (two parts of cilantro for four parts of butter). Add the juice from half lemon and mix everything well before storing it in the fridge. You can use it to cook steak, fish, potatoes, lobsters, corns, and oysters.
If you harvest the seeds, wait until they turn brown. See if the seedpods crack when you press them with fingers. If yes, cut the stems where the mature seedpods are developing. Place all of them in a Ziploc bag, and put the bag in a cool, dark place. This way, you can get ripe seeds at the right moment. Roll or shake the pods to get the seeds.
Unlike other herbs, you don’t dry cilantro before using it. Therefore, planting your own cilantro is great to provide you with fresh herbs. Planting cilantro is not difficult, but you must understand the right soil, temperature, and maintenance that it needs. Knowing how to grow cilantro will provide great herb sources and refreshing look at your home.